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Camino del Norte Stage 3: Santander to Gijón  The Natural Adventure

Camino del Norte Stage 3: Santander to Gijón

Overview

Walk the third stage of Camino del Norte from Santander to Gijón along the rugged Cantabrian coastline into the beautiful Asturias region. The Camino del Norte (a.k.a. The Northern Way) offers a truly authentic pilgrim experience. Compared to the Camino Frances, the route is quieter, much more challenging, and a lot more rewarding. The Camino del Norte goes along the green northern coast of Spain from San Sebastián in the Basque Country, through Cantabria and the Asturias and reaches Ribadeo in Galicia. From Ribadeo, the Northern Camino heads inland, taking pilgrims across the forests and farmlands of rural Galicia on its way to Santiago de Compostela.

Highlights

  • The city of Santander, with its numerous parks, beaches, historic buildings and great food
  • The Tito Bustillo cave in Ribadesella
  • Gijon, with its seafood and great ciders

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Santander

The capital of Cantabria, Santander, is an elegant city with plenty of beaches, parks, nature, architecture and great food.

Day 2: Santander to Santillana Del Mar | 37 km

After your overnight in Santander, you start your Camino heading inland through the towns of Santa Cruz de Bezana, Mompia and Boo de Piélagos. You will follow the estuary at Boo de Piélagos, finishing in the small village of Arce. Enter the Miengo region as you reach the town of Miengo. Suance is a beautiful little village, and it would be well worth taking some time to explore. Your destination for today is the medieval village of Santillana del Mar. You will walk through lovely meadows and tranquil villages on your way.

Day 3: Santillana Del Mar to Comillas | 22 km

From Santillana del Mar, you will continue along the wild, rugged coastline of Cantabria. On your way to Comillas, you will pass gorgeous little villages such as Cobreces with its Cistercian monastery. Comillas itself has fantastic beaches and incredible architecture. You should take some time to explore the sights in the town, such as the Pontifical University, the Palace of Sobrellano with its pantheon chapel and the Capricho de Gaudí.

  • Walking for the day: 22.1 km, 5 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel Esmeralda or similar in Comillas

Day 4: Comillas to Colombres | 29 km

Today you will continue along the coast to Oyambre Natural Park. The park is of huge importance for its wildlife and marine ecosystem, home to many species of birds, molluscs and fish. From here, the Camino del Norte heads for Colombres through green fields and woodland, passing the town of San Vicente de la Barquera and a number of small estuaries.

  • Walking for the day: 29 km, 7 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel Valbanera or similar in Colombres

Day 5: Colombres to Llanes | 23 km

Upon leaving Unquera, you will enter the Asturias, crossing a bridge over the river Deva into Bustio. The pretty town of Colombres is home to several impressive Casas de Indianos built by local emigrants who made fortunes in America. From Colombres, you will descend along the Sierra de la Borbolla. The Camino then enters Pendueles along a narrow path that climbs to the Jorcada Pass after crossing the road to Andrín. Finally, there is another descent to La Portilla and today’s destination: Llanes, a lively town nestled between the coast and the Picos de Europa.

  • Walking for the day: 23.2 km, 5 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel Don Paco or similar in Llanes

Day 6: Llanes to Ribadesella | 30 km

The first part of today’s stage follows the coast and the fantastic beaches of Palombina and Barro. After crossing the river Niembro, you will start the steady climb up to the Church of San Pedro de Pria. The church sits on top of a hill that overlooks the seven towns of the area. From here, you will descend to the river Guadamía where you will cross the medieval stone bridge. Next, you will pass through Sobares on your way to Ribadesella, a nice little town worth exploring: divided in two by the bridge, the east side is home to the charming medieval old town, while the west side has a gorgeous beach and the town’s famous Tito Bustillo cave, home to ancient cave art.

  • Walking for the day: 30 km, 7-8 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel Don Pepe or similar in Ribadesella

Day 7: Ribadesella to Colunga | 21 km

From the lively seaside town of Ribadesella, you will head inland briefly towards San Esteban and then return to the coast, where you will pass some beautiful sandy beaches. Your stop for the night is the bustling market town of Colunga (San Cristóbal).

  • Walking for the day: 21 km, 4-5 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel Entrevines or similar in Colunga

Day 8: Colunga to Villaviciosa | 17 km

Today is quite a short walking day. Starting from Colunga, you will pass many villages along the way. In Priesca, you should stop to check out the 10th-century Church of San Salvador, one of the oldest on the Camino de Santiago.

  • Walking for the day: 17 km, 4 hours
  • Accommodation: Hotel Avenida Real or similar in Villaviciosa

Day 9: Villaviciosa to Gijón | 30 km

Today is one of the longest and most challenging days on the Camino del Norte, as you will walk up Alto de la Cruz. Today’s trail goes through lush countryside, and you will hit the coast again at Gijón. At Casquita, there will be signs for pilgrims heading for Gijón and continuing on the Camino del Norte, but also signs for those pilgrims heading towards Oviedo to continue on the Camino Primitivo. Take your time to explore the city of Gijón, home to fantastic beaches, great gastronomy, history and heritage (including Roman baths) and where you will find the Bagpipe Museum. We recommend booking an extra night here.

Day 10: Departure

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before heading back to the airport or extending your stay in Spain.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodations on this tour include a mix of welcoming country inns and simple but comfortable hotels located close to the route of the Camino. You will always have a private room and an en-suite (attached) bathroom. The accommodation places have been carefully selected for their location, atmosphere and/or unique services. Extra nights can be booked at any of the accommodations along the way.

Important: We aim to book you into each town listed on the itinerary. However, in case of low availability, we may book you two nights in the same town with provided transfers. Also, on some occasions, your accommodation can be located a few kilometres away from the trail, so we organise transportation to/from your accommodation.

Click to view default hotels

Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Breakfast is included (usually a simple buffet breakfast/coffee and toast/bread/croissant) on all days. When no restaurant location is available on the route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. Where no dinner is included, most places serve hearty pilgrim menus – you can get a 3-course dinner including wine and water for about GBP 10-15 pp.

Difficulty & terrain

This walk is graded moderate but some of the walks are fairly strenuous with steeper ascents/descents. A reasonable level of fitness is required. This route can be challenging for those with little walking experience (read more about difficulty grades). The Camino Del Norte follows a mixture of farm/dirt tracks, minor roads and footpaths. The route is marked with yellow painted arrows, but please take care at intersections. There are sections on the route where you will divert to follow the red and white stripes of the GR routes. There will always be other walkers around in case you are looking for help. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime.

When to go

This trip is available from March till mid-November, but the best months to visit are April – October.

The weather in Northern Spain is very varied. In general, you can expect pleasant temperatures for walking of between 19°C and up to about 26°C in the summer months. As you will be walking near the coast for much of this walk, you can expect some rainy days, particularly in spring and autumn.

The flexibility of self-guided walking holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

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By plane

Our recommended arrival airport for this tour is Santander. The nearest airport to Gijón is Oviedo Asturias which is 30 km away.

By train or bus

Inclusions

Included

  • 9 nights in private en-suite rooms
  • 9 breakfasts
  • Maps
  • Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days (1 pc up to 20 kg per person; each additional piece should be paid)
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches and dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Additional luggage
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes & entry fees (payable on the spot)
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included

Options, extras & supplements

  • Supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room / single use of a double room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Extra nights upon request

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